Thursday, June 18, 2009

Theater In The Round in Orange

Anonymous asks if anyone remembers a "theater in the round" in Orange...

I may be crazy, but I swear there was a really nice "theater in the round" (a la Melodyland) in the City of Orange (on Katella, I think) back in the middle 60's. I believe it was called the "Carousel Theater". I'm sure it was converted into the unusual round bank building still located on the north side of Katella between Tustin Ave and Glassel. Does anyone else remember this?

46 comments:

  1. YES!!! I remember this place! Saw so many great shows there. I was a little girl, but I remember seeing the King Family, do you remember them?? And Roger Miller, and Connie Francis, Jimmy Durante, tons of others I can't remember. What a great place, what is it now? A bank?? And I remember a Disco place right off of the freeway, can't remember what is was called...I think it was the Crescendo?? Does anyone remember this? Spent some nights there dancing, as well as at the Sheraton in Anaheim, they used to have the best live bands.

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    1. I first arrived at crescedo in 1978 from a small town in Lancashire england aged 29 first time in America I found mirrored dance floor bar girls inlycra swimsuits not yet in uk everyone danced to sat night fever dance lessons shown on tv every night I thought I had died and gone to heaven went back in 1979 with wife even better

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  2. The Theatre in the Round turned into Melodyland and eventually by the early 70's or such had become Melodyland Church. I remember going there to see Pat Boone and David Wilkerson from the movie the "Cross and the Switchblade". I thought it remained a church for a long time.

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  3. Nancy said..
    Yes, I went to see Liberace with my grandparents and mom when I was young. I can remember at age 10 or so what a wonderful performer he was. Most kids that age don't appreciate music like his.
    All the glitter.....sure wish I still had the program that was shaped as a piano I got that night.
    Those were great times in Orange County back then.
    Not too safe now.
    Great memories this site brings to me. I grew up in Santa Ana and lived there for 41 years until moving to Oregon.
    "Thanks for the memories"

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  4. Kathryn ReesmanJune 28, 2009 12:10 AM

    I vaguely remember a 'theater in the round' perhaps in Orange, but I think it was different from Melodyland in Anaheim. Melodyland was E of Disneyland, perhaps on Manchester Ave. and just W of the 5 Freeway.
    There was a miniature golf place on the corner at Harbor Blvd., where you would turn E to get to Melodyland.
    I barely recall seeing a stage show of "The Music Man" in the summer of 1963 at the round theater in Orange. But I did see other stage shows or concerts at Melodyland later in the '60s.

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  5. Correction: Melodyland was located on what is now Disney Way, just E off Harbor Blvd -- N of Katella and S of Manchester, and on the S side of the street. It had a large parking area, and was just W of the 5 Freeway, where the street had a dead end.
    I believe the street was called either Melody Lane or Melodyland Way - like that.

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  6. Melodyland Theatre booked concerts in the 60's some of which were the The Righteous Broithers with the Shindig dancers

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  7. My much older sister took me to my first concert at Melodyland in 1965. The headliners were the Dave Clark 5 and I was 8 years old.

    By theater in the round, do you mean the old Cinedome movie theater on Chapman in Orange across from where the UCI Medical Center is located? I remember seeing the Who's film "Tommy" there in the 1970s. The exterior was white and circular, but I cannot recall the interior.

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  8. Many fond memories! As a little girl I saw Music Man staring Eddie Albert; South Pacific; and a couple other shows I can't remember. Great when the actors had to run up and down the aisles – no "exit stage left" !

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  9. I don't know how I found this sight but I do remember the Carousel Theater. It was so long ago, I remember that my husband had helped design this theater. We went to see a production of Carousel, with Mary Martin and Dan Dailey. Early 1960's.

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    1. It was John Raitt and Linda Michelle in Carousel--I have the program!

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    2. that is correct I was in the production. I was a child performer and was the dancing bear in the open production number

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  10. Anaheim was such a great place to grow up in. I went to Sycamore Jr. High and then on to Anaheim Union High. Melodyland was the place to go. I saw Eddy Arnold in the round there in the late 60's. Anaheim was magical in those days.

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  11. Melodyland was fabulous. We saw The King Family and an amazing number of musicals, including The King and I, Can-Can, Annie Get Your Gun, The Music Man (with Bert Parks!), Finnian's Rainbow (with Alan Young!) and several productions of The Sound of Music. When the place became a church I was sadly reminded of that chapter in English history when the Roundheads abolished the Cavalier period.

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  12. The unusual bank building on Katella just south of Tustin and north of Cambridge was never a theater. It started out as a bank building and was originally about half the size it is today, but was always just as ugly!

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  13. I worked at Melodyland or the theater in the round in orange co. in the mid sixties. The show was Pal Joey starring Yvonne De Carlo & Frankie Avalon.I think Goldie Hawn was a dancer in the show. Barbara Nickols was also in that production. I was Yvonne's personal hair dresser at that time. We ate at a French restruant near by called La Orange.. Those were fun days!

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    1. I worked at a gift shop at the Disneyland Hotel during those years. Mrs. De Carlo was known to be a cleptomainiac ( sp ) A person who cannot help themselves, but take
      things without paying. She would come into our shop, and a person would be with her to watch her and then pay for whatever she took, so police would not be called.

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  14. I saw Hoyt Axton there in 1964

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  15. Melodyland was a wonderful 3,500 seat theatre-in-the-round which began around 1962. It was so successful in its first two years, the owners, Sammy Lewis & Danny Dare opened two other similar theatres: The Carousel Theatre in West Covina, and the Circle Star in San Carlos, CA. The did all the major musicals usually for 2-3 week runs, and ran shows year round. Eventually after doing almost every major Broadway hit of any note, they ran out of new titles. They tried repeating earlier shows, but those didn't draw as well the second time around, so they switched to Celebrity concerts. Those eventually became unprofitable, and Melodyland shuttered around 1969-1971 as did the Carousel. The Circle Star continued as a concert house for a number of years after, and then went out of business also. Imagine: You could see a Broadway musical with a full orchestra and one or two major musical film stars. Seats for matinees were $2-$4. Top price for Friday and Saturday nights was $6.50 (front row). It was a magical time for musical theatre in Orange County during the 1960's. I was lucky enough to work as a performer in several of their musicals over a six year time span. it was the most fun I ever had in my lifetime.

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    1. I remember this well. Hi Jerry. Fond memories of our youth, John Rich

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  16. I WAS A LITTLE GIRL NO MORE THAN 6 YEARS OLD WHEN I SAW WIZARD OF OZ ON A ROUND THEATRE IN THE SIXTIES. SADLY WE MOVED AWAY AND IVE NOTBEEN THERE SINCE. I HAVE SEARCHING FOR TWO HOURS TRYING TO FIND OUT WHERE IT WAS. THE SHOW WAS SO AWESOME. THE REVOLVING STAGE WAS HUGE. ANYONE SHE WIZRD OF OZ BACK THENAND WHERE?

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  17. JERRY LANDON SOT IT TOTALLY CORRECT. I WAS A STAGE MANAGER AND LIGHTING DESIGNER AT MELODYLAND, CAROUSEL, AND CIRCLE STAR DURING THE LATE '60s'. I REMEMBER AFTER WE RAN OUT OF MUSICALS WE STARTED WITH THE CONCERT ACTS, THEN THE CIRCUS, WRESTLING MATCHES,AND SOME ROCK AND ROLL... ( A YOUNG ACT NAMED 'SIMON & GARFUNCLE' OPENED FOR 'THE ASSOCIATION'). WHEN THE THEATRE STARTED TO RENT THE SPACE TO REV. WILKERSON ON MONDAY NIGHTS I DECIDED IT WAS TIME TO MOVE ON.

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  18. CORRECTION......
    SIMON & GARFUNKEL OPENED FOR THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS AT MELODYLAND THEATRE

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  19. LISA....KIND OF A LATE RESPONSE, BUT I SAW YOUR COMMENT RE THE CRESCENDO. IT WAS INDEED ONE OF THE BEST DISCOS LATE 70'S, I BELIEVE. WE ENJOYED MANY A NITE AT THE PLACE, BUT THE ONE THING I CLEARLY REMEMBER ABOUT THE PLACE WAS THE EXCELLENT VENTILATION SYSTEM, 'CUZ MANY OF US SMOKED THEN, BUT AFTER 4 HOURS OF DISCO DANCING IN THERE, OUR CLOTHES DID NOT PICK UP THE SMELL OF CIGARETTE SMOKE, UNLIKE MOST OTHER DANCECLUBS.
    MARIO

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  20. In 1967, my husband and I went to the Carousel Theater to see the Mamas and the Papas. I remember the Turtles opened for them and I was never a fan of theirs. FINALLY, the Mamas and Papas came on stage. We had front row seats but unfortunately we were sitting right in front of where Cass was standing. Yes, she had a powerful voice but HER voice was all we could hear! I remember Michelle wearing a green velvet jacket and immediately went out and bought one. It was great to see them but we have always felt cheated by being so close to Cass and her huge voice.

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  21. Robert A. BouvardDecember 02, 2010 1:35 PM

    I worked at Melody Land with Yvonne De Carlo in the early 1960's Pal Joey was the play also starring Frankie Avalon & Barbara Nichols. I think Goldie Hawn was in the chorus. I was Miss DeCarlo's personal hairdresser & friend .

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  22. Great posts. I also have memories of the Melody Land "Theatre in the Round" Saw Barbara Bel Geddes and Jack Cassiday in ?, Roger Miller, Jose Feliciano, Wayne Newton. Anyone know the year Jose Feliciano played there? Just saw him again
    12-10-2010 in Wickenberg, Az. Jim Boisseranc

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  23. June, 1963....I was part of the supporting cast as a resident chorus member. We did 10 shows, opening with Annie Get Your Gun (starring Harve Presnell & Betty Hutton). In 1964, we did 10 more shows. Would rehearse the "soon-to-open" show during the day and perform the current show the same night. Every two weeks we would rotate shows. 1964....same routine-10 different shows. Guest music/comedy artists would fill in the 'dark' dates. Great memories! ffrank

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  24. Don't forget the Celebrity Theater downtown Anaheim. I believe designed by the same guy who designed Melodyland. the celebrity saw its hay day in the eighties with such acts as guns n roses ...even johnny cash. they started having kickboxing there one could watch on t.v. eventually a stabbing, or was it a shooting, after a rap concert shut it down for years until it reopened as a church now called the heritage forum.

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  25. I saw the Simon and Garfunkel concert at the West Covina Melodyland Sunday, April 2, 1967 (It was a rainy day.)
    Coincidentally, a friend of my says he was there for Simon and Garfunkel that weekend also but that The Buckinghams opened for S&G. I have no recollection of that.
    Also, does anyone know the audience size of the theater back then?
    Elliott M.

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  26. For sure Goldie Hawn was a dancer at Melodyland, I believe she played Tinkerbell. She lived in our apartment and my then wife watched her dog (Lambchop) while she worked. She had no phone and used ours to call her mom every Saturday. She is a really neat person.

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    1. Yes! I remember Goldie too! She was one of the stock dancers and she was very kind to the child actors.

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  27. I saw the Association at Medodyland and remember them all standing in a circle facing out to the audience as they sang. I also saw The Flower Drum Song musical there, which was very well done. I thought it was ahead of its time in bringing great entertainment to audiences at affordable prices.

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  28. It was like Camelot, for a brief shinning moment their was a place called Melodyland Theater in Anaheim, California. There I grew up as a person and young performer. I am still doing theater and passing on the education I recieved there by so many professionals from the hay day of theater and motion pictures.
    Most sincerely, John Rich

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  29. It was Simon and Garfunkle opening for the Mamas and Papas; 1965 or 1966. My Soph year at Fullerton JC. One of my English instructors give us the choice of either writing a tedious paper on something or other or turning in a ticket stub from the concert.

    S & G did their almost-a capella version of Bridge Over Troubled Waters. Melodyland was a GREAT place to see concerts because the audience was so close to the stage (theater in the round), matinee ticket prices were cheap, and the management didn't care if you moved up to better seats once the act started.

    It was on Harbor, across from Disneyland; it later became Melody Christian Center--probably still is.

    Saw Smothers Brothers, other folk and Broadway acts that don't come to mind right at the moment.

    Miss it.

    Email me if you want: williamwallaceoc@gmail.com

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  30. Just a quick comment. My parents were volunteer ushers at Melodyland. Occasionally, they would get me in for free. I would stand in the back of the theater in the round until everyone had been seated. They would then have me sit in a seat that was vacant.

    One performance, while waiting along the back wall (after the show had started), a man came up to me and put his arm around my shoulder and gave me a hug. When i looked at him, all I could see was NOSE!! It was Jimmy Durante....he said to me, "You're a good boy'''...and with that, he ran down the aisle and hopped on stage and was in the show.

    I'lll never forget it. A special experience.

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  31. My mom was a singer at Melodyland in the mid-sixties. Sally Bachman. She has books of pictures from her days performing there. I remember seeing a production when I was very young...probably 3 or 4, something came out of the trap door in the center of the stage. Goldie Hawn was a dancer at Melodyland the same time my mom was in the chorus. My mom did several musicals; The King and I, The Sound of Music, A Funny thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Music Man, Showboat...the list goes on and on.

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    1. I remember Sally. I especially enjoyed her singing in the Sound of Music. I also have about 30-40 books of the performances I was in. I was a dancer with Melodyland for 6 seasons and performed at all three theaters. Mr. Tymar was the director.
      Goldie Hawn was in only one show as a dancer. She had a small part and went from there to Laugh-In.
      I loved Melodyland. Janet

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  32. Simon and Garfunkel performed at the old Carousel Theater in West Covina 4/1/67(Saturday). The Buckinghams opened the show and were outstanding.

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  33. I remember seeing Annette O'Toole in The Wizard of Oz. There was a Children's Drama class there taught by Queenie Smith. Anyone remember that?

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  34. I remember South Pacific at the Carousel Theater in West Covina, Cal. in the 60's. Does anyone remember the name of the blond who sang? Maybe she played the part of Ensign Nellie Forbush. She also played on a t.v. sitcom as a nurse I think in a military setting.

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    1. I was a scenery runner during the showing of Carousel Theater...I was only 15...lied about my age...but it was the most fun I have ever had...met so many stars...Ethel Merman had a great voice...ahhh...memories

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  35. I was 6 or 7 when my dad and I saw Bert Parks as Harold Hill in "The Music Man" in 1963 or 1964 at the Melodyland Theater, across from Disneyland on Harbor Blvd.

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  36. I remember seeing PHYLLIS DILLER and PETER NERO at Melodyland Theatre in Anaheim. Also saw Tab Hunter and Lynn Bari in BAREFOOT IN THE PARK. Another show we saw at Melodyland was ROSE MARIE in CALL ME MADAM!

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  37. It was either 1968 or 1969 that Jose Feliciano played Melodyland. Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Ponies were the warm-up act.I remember that she was barefoot and wore a really short silver lame dress with bell sleeves.

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  38. I was a dancer with the Jimmy Durante Show in 1969 at both Melodyland in Anaheim and Circle Star in San Carlos. Fun memories!

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